The Lakers and the Bucks are having fantastic seasons this year. The Lakers’ current record of 24-4 after their loss to the Pacers leaves them with a winning percentage of .857. To put this in context, if they maintained this form for the rest of the season, it would not only make them one of the best Lakers teams of all time, it would also make them one of the best NBA teams ever.
Believe it or not, there have been teams who have finished an NBA season with a winning percentage higher than .857. The Lakers still have over 50 games in the season remaining. While it’s not impossible that they could maintain this form, it would require a significant effort and fitness levels.
The NBA has been graced by some great teams over the last six decades. Every fanbase will claim that their franchise has had the best NBA teams ever. Iconic players and historic victories can transform players into demigods. The best way to tell fact from fiction when emotions are involved is through stats. By looking through the treasure trove of NBA stats, we can pick the best NBA team of all time.
To be the best NBA team, the most important stat of all is whether or not they won the NBA championship. It shows the ultimate level of consistency from the regular season to the postseason. So when deciding on the all-time best team, NBA championship rings trump the regular-season winning percentage.
A combination of the NBA stats from the regular season and postseason makes the following three teams the best NBA teams ever.
Honourable mention: 2015-2016 Warriors
Before we get into the top three, The 2015-2016 Warriors need an honourable mention. They are the best NBA team to not win the NBA finals. The 2015-2016 Warriors hold the record for the highest winning percentage during the regular season in NBA history.
Over 82 games, the Warriors won 73 games and lost only 9 times for a winning percentage of .890. To put that in context, the current Lakers team can only lose five more games this season to match this record.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, though, things started coming undone in the Conference finals and ultimately in the NBA finals, where they lost to the Cavaliers. The main starting lineup consisted of:
- Stephen Curry
- Klay Thompson
- Draymond Green
- Harrison Barnes
- Andrew Bogut
For the regular season all-time best team, NBA fans need to look no further. Their .890 record stands to this day, and could for a long time still. Sadly, by not winning the NBA finals, this team will be remembered as the greatest team to not win a ring.
3: The 1971-1972 Lakers
The 1971-1972 Lakers team has been heralded as one of the best for over four decades. They still hold the NBA record for the longest winning streak of any team. They won an unmatchable 33 consecutive games with one of the greatest teams ever assembled. Their main lineup consisted of:
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Jerry West
- Gail Godrich
- Happy Hairston
- Jim McMillian
The roster also included Elgin Baylor, whose season was cut short through injury after only nine games. Chamberlain, West and Baylor are three of the all-time best NBA players. Chamberlain holds multiple individual records and Jerry West is the silhouette in the NBA logo. Godrich, Baylor, Chamberlain and West are all NBA Hall of Famers.
During the 1971-1972 season, the Lakers won 69 and lost 13 games for a .841 winning percentage. In the postseason they won 12 games and lost 3 en route to the championship ring that had eluded them in seven NBA finals in the previous nine seasons. Taking their regular season and postseason games into account, the 1971-1972 Lakers ended with a .835 winning percentage. This makes them the third-best NBA team of all time.
2: The 2016-2017 Warriors
After coming so close in the 2015-2016 season, the Warriors went a step further in 2016-2017 — so emphatically that they improved on the combined regular season and postseason winning percentage from the previous campaign.
This improvement was due, in no small part, to the addition of Kevin Durant to the roster. Their main lineup consisted of:
- Stephen Curry
- Kevin Durant
- Klay Thompson
- Draymond Green
- Andre Iguodala
Durant and Curry are almost certain to be Hall of Famers in the future. Thompson, Green and Iguodala are in with a shout as well, but not as much as Durant and Curry. Durant has had an incredible career so far and could still go on to break more records if he has a strong return from injury. Curry has brought about a shift in the NBA strategically thanks to his clinical three-pointers. These two players are two of the best players of the last decade along with LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.
With a star-studded lineup, the Warriors crushed all before them. During the regular season, the Warriors won 67 games and lost 15 for a winning percentage of .817. In the postseason, this team kicked into a ruthless mode that has yet to be equalled or bettered. They won 16 games and lost only 1 to be crowned champions. This gave the Warriors the best postseason winning percentage of all time with .941.
Adding the games from their regular and postseason together gives the 2016-2017 Warriors a winning percentage of .838. This makes them the second-best NBA team of all time.
1: The 1995-1996 Bulls
That’s right, the best NBA team according to NBA stats is the 1995-1996 Bulls. The Bulls dynasty dominated the 90s, but this specific Bulls team dominates the last six decades. The great Michael Jordan came back from his baseball cameo the previous season and was firing on all cylinders. The arrival of Dennis Rodman was the final addition to the masterpiece of a roster. The main lineup included:
- Michael Jordan
- Dennis Rodman
- Scottie Pippen
- Ron Harper
- Luc Longley
Jordan, Pippen and Rodman are all NBA Hall of Famers and have left an unmistakable mark on the NBA since they played. You can bet any sports fan, not just basketball fans, knows of Jordan and Rodman. Like Magic Johnson before them, they helped to bring basketball to a wider audience.
During the 1995-1996 season, the Bulls won 72 and lost 10 games. This gave them a winning percentage of .878 for the regular season.
In the postseason, the Bulls won 15 and lost only 3 games for a winning percentage of .833. Jordan led the playoffs in points, Rodman in rebounds and Pippen in steals.
Combining the games from the regular season and the postseason gives the Bulls a winning percentage of .870. This makes 1995-1996 the best NBA team of all time.
Using stats to pick the best
NBA stats are a great way to find definitive evidence of who the best teams and players are. In sports betting, stats are as important. It can help you to distinguish between what your heart and head are telling you. Too often sports betting lines seem value for money only because you believe your favourite team can beat anyone in the league.
Researching stats is one of the first sports betting tips to know. Learning how to bet on sports successfully is all about researching stats and knowing the form of players and teams. In this way, you notice when the odds are truly value for money.
It’s also good to do your research when looking for the best online sportsbook. Different sports betting websites will have different odds and lines on games. For example, you might find a futures bet odds on the Lakers this season that are higher than most of the other sports betting sites. Register with BetMGM for the best legal online sports betting experience.